Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Barefoot Boy

Dad, I just wanted to say Happy Birthday and post an old poem that I remember you quoting from time to time.


Clayton Oliver Cranmer


Photo taken 1942


"The Barefoot Boy"
by John Greenleaf Whittier

Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
With the sunshine on thy face,
Through thy torn brim’s jaunty grace;
From my heart I give thee joy,—
I was once a barefoot boy!
Prince thou art,—the grown-up man
Only is republican.
Let the million-dollared ride!
Barefoot, trudging at his side,
Thou hast more than he can buy
In the reach of ear and eye,—
Outward sunshine, inward joy:
Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!

Oh for boyhood’s painless play,
Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
Health that mocks the doctor’s rules,
Knowledge never learned of schools,
Of the wild bee’s morning chase,
Of the wild-flower’s time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole’s nest is hung;
Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow,
Where the ground-nut trails its vine,
Where the wood-grape’s clusters shine;
Of the black wasp’s cunning way,
Mason of his walls of clay,
And the architectural plans
Of gray hornet artisans!
For, eschewing books and tasks,
Nature answers all he asks;
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks,
Part and parcel of her joy,—
Blessings on the barefoot boy!

Oh for boyhood’s time of June,
Crowding years in one brief moon,
When all things I heard or saw,
Me, their master, waited for.
I was rich in flowers and trees,
Humming-birds and honey-bees;
For my sport the squirrel played,
Plied the snouted mole his spade;
For my taste the blackberry cone
Purpled over hedge and stone;
Laughed the brook for my delight
Through the day and through the night,
Whispering at the garden wall,
Talked with me from fall to fall;
Mine the sand-rimmed pickerel pond,
Mine the walnut slopes beyond,
Mine, on bending orchard trees,
Apples of Hesperides!
Still as my horizon grew,
Larger grew my riches too;
All the world I saw or knew
Seemed a complex Chinese toy,
Fashioned for a barefoot boy!

Oh for festal dainties spread,
Like my bowl of milk and bread;
Pewter spoon and bowl of wood,
On the door-stone, gray and rude!
O’er me, like a regal tent,
Cloudy-ribbed, the sunset bent,
Purple-curtained, fringed with gold,
Looped in many a wind-swung fold;
While for music came the play
Of the pied frogs’ orchestra;
And, to light the noisy choir,
Lit the fly his lamp of fire.
I was monarch: pomp and joy
Waited on the barefoot boy!

Cheerily, then, my little man,
Live and laugh, as boyhood can!
Though the flinty slopes be hard,
Stubble-speared the new-mown sward,
Every morn shall lead thee through
Fresh baptisms of the dew;
Every evening from thy feet
Shall the cool wind kiss the heat:
All too soon these feet must hide
In the prison cells of pride,
Lose the freedom of the sod,
Like a colt’s for work be shod,
Made to tread the mills of toil,
Up and down in ceaseless moil:
Happy if their track be found
Never on forbidden ground;
Happy if they sink not in
Quick and treacherous sands of sin.
Ah! that thou couldst know thy joy,
Ere it passes, barefoot boy!


pattinase (abbott) said...

Happy Birthday, Mr Cranmer. You have quite a gentleman for a son. I bet you're proud.

Laurie Powers said...

What a beautiful tribute, David. Really lovely. Thanks for sharing it.

Leah J. Utas said...

Happy Birthday, Mr. Cranmer.

G. B. Miller said...

Excellent tribute.

Betcha the sun showed a little brighter today.

Barbara Martin said...

Excellent memorial, David.

Scott D. Parker said...

Dang. That one got to me, especially now that I have a son. Thanks for sharing.

Richard Prosch said...

That's a splendid piece.

Charles Gramlich said...

Takes me back to when my son was a little one. I used to write poetry for him sometimes, usually around Christmas time. A very nice tribute to 'your' dad.

David Cranmer said...

Thank you everyone. He would have appreciated the kind words.

Shaylen Maxwell said...

So beautiful indeed.

dMix said...

What a wonderful way to always carry your father with you... by commemorating special occasions with something that was meaningful to him... just like his son. Very touching D.

Anonymous said...

Dad would have loved this. I had no idea that little verse he used to quote was part of such a great poem. I miss him very much, but I have felt his love still in many things that I do, especially with my children, whom he loved so very much. Thank you for honoring our father in this way.


Randy Johnson said...

Very nice, indeed.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

What a great post--your dad looks quite spiffy in that photo. :) I wish I knew someone who occasionally quoted poetry.

Sarah Hina said...

A beautiful memorial, David. I'm sorry he's no longer with you.

That poem was powerfully bittersweet. Such a celebration of life, and a poignant reminder of its brevity.

Jacquie Rogers said...

I haven't read this poem for years, but I've always loved it.

Happy Birthday to Mr. Cranmer! What a wonderful post. Makes me miss my dad, too.